As God is seen as the maker and source of all you have, prayer is just an outgrowth of that.  Religious doctrine is that if you recognise this and only seek the will of God then we describe your response as prayer.  Prayer is being aware of your dependence on God.  This may be expressed in saying prayers but prayer is really what is in your heart.   Prayer in words only expresses a prayer that is already happening.  So prayer is essentially seeking and affirming and continuing a relationship with God.  It is a two way process.  The two ways are God's offer and your accepting. 

The idea that prayer is only about learning about yourself redefines prayer.  That is not prayer.  You do not need to call that prayer.

It may be correct that Jesus did not advocate a form of prayer that gives orders to God like a servant. But given that Jesus said God was about service and that what you ask you shall receive and gave an example of a person who pestered a judge to get what they wanted as a model of prayer it is hard to be sure. Read Luke 18.

Religion says there is a difference between confident prayer and arrogant prayer. But the fact remains this is hair-splitting. Nobody says God always gives what you ask. Plus many have an experience that shows them there is nothing there.  If God is there then this experience is a lie and he creates it.  So prayer in the real world does nothing to show that a relationship with God is happening. If you ask for a relationship with God then prayer may not even deliver that.  Clearly this message of prayer doing you good is setting you up for disappointment.  Anyway you would not be asking unless you felt enough that something would happen.  So this confident prayer is arrogant after all.  A feeling is no indication of what is to come.  Arrogance breeds arrogance and you will get hurt.  And what about how you are influencing your friends who pray with you?  Hurt will come.

As for petitions to God, it seems to be very cruel say if you are an ailing parent who needs to get well to care for your children and nothing happens.  But it is cruel if there is no God to answer or if there is a God who does not answer for he does not care.

Also Jesus said when we donate we should avoid letting anybody know and used the image of, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing”.  Yet people want you know they pray for things and for the less well-off.  That is what church is for.  

But that is about more than just trying to keep prayer private.  It says prayer is personal to you and God by definition. So prayer is private by definition for it is about God.  And it is protected by a rule, "Keep it discreet".

Few do really sacrificial good. Mothers dying for their babies are forced by their hormones.  Chemicals causing attachments make men sacrifice for their wives and children and their people.  The Bible says the human heart lies to its owner above all things so you can swear you are being about the other person and still be wrong or less right than you think.

Jesus even said that doing great things for those who love you is suspect. And what about doing it for those who you think can love you or will?  That won't be any better.

To think that others are that interested in your goodness is selfish. To think a God who is perfectly good and all-knowing and the maker of all is, is off the scale selfish. Jesus said it is wrong to let the person beside you know what good you do if you can be secretive.  He said God will see and reward you.  If you think God is watching then we have him advocating that you exchange one form of virtue-signalling for another.

And Jesus was very pointed. He said not to display your generosity to the poor like the scribes and Pharisees do. But the Romans were doing that too. And ordinary people and the rich were doing it. It was not just scribes and Pharisees.  Is a man like that really a true authority on spirituality?


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